International Matters

international affairs newsletter header

Volume 1, Issue 1- Premier Edition

Welcome, Introduction and
International Strategy Update

photo from the Education Policy briefing

Welcome to our first issue of International Matters, a quarterly newsletter from the International Affairs Office at the U.S. Department of Education, highlighting important events, articles and topics related to international education.  We are excited to launch this new outlet to communicate news and events and keep you up-to-date on what we’ve been up to and what’s around the corner.  We have also revamped our website and added new information and features—you can check it out here.

Last year the Department released its first-ever international strategy, Succeeding Globally Through International Education and Engagement.   The strategy outlines three interrelated objectives–increase global competencies, learn from other countries and engage in education diplomacy–to advance the twin strategic goals of strengthening U.S. education and advancing U.S. international priorities.  Articulating our strategy has been beneficial in focusing the Department’s work, including facilitating discussion on how best to advance our stated priorities. 

To that end, in May we hosted an education policy briefing at the Department of Education with an overview of the strategy and a panel discussion focused on the first objective–increasing global competencies of all U.S. students.  Each of the participating panelists had a unique perspective on the topic, and the dialogue ranged from how the Common Core State Standards allow for inclusion of global competencies to ways higher education institutions can help students gain these competencies.  It also included first-hand student and teacher experiences with world language learning and beyond.  You can watch the policy briefing held on May 23, 2013 here.  You can also read the perspective of one of the discussion participants—a college student—on why studying languages is important here

An essential element of the Department’s international strategy is to build awareness of the importance of a world-class education for all, international collaboration and cross-cultural exchange.   Thanks for reading and for passing this on to others who may be interested to help us in this important work!

Maureen McLaughlin 
Senior Advisor to the Secretary and Director of International Affairs


Secretary and Undersecretary
Speak at Global Education Events

For generations, from 20th Century Mississippi to 21st Century Mali, young people around the world have risked their safety—and even given their lives—to get the education that will unlock their full potential.”  Secretary Duncan eloquently described the connections between the U.S. domestic education agenda and education efforts worldwide when he spoke to the USAID Global Education Summit on August 6.  Malala Yousafzai’s words in her remarkable, moving address to the United Nations in July, “education is the only solution” were central to the Secretary’s message.

Undersecretary Martha Kanter also spoke to the importance of quality education for all across the globe in her remarks during a June UNESCO Global Education First event.  “We also know that learning remains the key to personal growth, development, and economic prosperity. . . . This should not be a race with winners and losers. Instead, increased rates of educational attainment are a key to restoring sustainable, healthier levels of social and economic growth for a more vibrant and prosperous global society.”

As Secretary Duncan stated in August, “Today's global economy is not a zero-sum game. Instead, education is the new currency by which nations keep competitive and grow the pie for all.”  


Secretary Duncan’s Bus Tour
Visits School on the Mexican Border

On September 10, Secretary Duncan’s Strong Start, Bright Future Back-to-School Bus Tour  through the Southwest took the Secretary right to the border with Mexico.  The Secretary stopped at Columbus Elementary in Columbus, NM, not far from the U.S./Mexico border, where seventy-five percent of its students live in Mexico and cross the border each day for school.  You can read more about the Secretary’s visit here.


Learning From Other Countries

Maureen McLaughlin participated in a panel discussion at the Brookings Institution on September 12th related to the release of Endangering Prosperity: A Global View of the American School.  You can watch a video of the panel discussion here.  Maureen’s dialogue about the importance of international benchmarking and the Department’s efforts to learn from other countries to improve U. S. education is from minute 1:18:50 to 1:30:50.


Have You Seen This?


Upcoming Events

  • First PIAAC Release–On October 8th, the OECD Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) International Report and the U.S. National Report will be released.  PIAAC is a household study of adults between the ages of 16 and 65 that has been developed under the auspices of the OECD.  The goal of PIAAC is to assess and compare the basic skills and the broad range of competencies of adults around the world (25 countries participated in the study.)  To hear more about PIACC and the Department’s goal of learning from other countries through international benchmarking, please mark your calendar for Thursday, November 21 at 10 a.m. for an upcoming education policy briefing in the Department’s LBJ Auditorium. 

  • International Education Week–Planning is underway for the 14th annual International Education Week in November.  The week, a joint initiative of the Departments of Education and State, provides schools, colleges and universities, and communities an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide.  This year’s theme is “International Education: Learning Matters Around the World.”  Individuals and institutions are encouraged to join the Department of State listserv and submit an event.  Also, Secretary Duncan recorded a video encouraging the public to participate.  We’ll talk more about this celebration in our next newsletter.

International Dignitaries

Acting Deputy Secretary Jim Shelton greets Chinese Vice Minister of Education Hao Ping

Acting Deputy Secretary Jim Shelton meets Chinese Vice Minister of Education Hao Ping

Secretary Arne Duncan welcomes New Zealand's Minister of Education Hekia Parata

Secretary Arne Duncan welcomes
New Zealand's Minister of Education Hekia Parata

 Secretary Arne Duncan welcomes Indian Minister Raju

Secretary Arne Duncan visits with 
Indian Minister of Human Resources Development Pallum Raju

Secretary Arne Duncan welcomes Japanese Minister of Education Shimomura

Secretary Arne Duncan greets
Japanese Minister of Education Hakubun Shimomura

For more photos of International Dignitaries’ visits click here.